TRAVEL / THAILAND
March , 2013
CHIANG MAI + DIARY
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Head to the North of Thailand to get away from skyscrapers and city chaos in Bangkok. Chiang Mai is about 12hours on a train and 10hours on a bus. But getting there is also part of the adventure! Because if you have traveled by road in Southeast Asia you know that this is a long trip with lots of stories to be told! Pack a small lunch with you and bring a book or some game cards, because delays and setbacks are very likely and common.
Once in Chiang Mai you will have to battle your way through all the tourist guides trying to get you to book with them! We recommend not to go with the first person that gets your attention, be calm and get to your hotel and be sure of the things that you want to see and do.
Chiang Mai is a more relaxed and local experience compared to Bangkok. It has a town feeling with lots of attractions, no chaotic traffic, but its gotten very popular over the years, so there are and will be a lot of tourists on your visit. We recommend staying in the heart of town near the Night Market. This is something that we really enjoyed. WE LOVE markets, either to eat, to try new things, to admire the colorful fabrics, or just to browse and walk around. Chiang Mai night market is very nice compared to Bangkok's night market. You cannot miss it, it starts at about 7pm on the main street and goes on for miles, into a little plaza where its filled with restaurants, live music, dance spectacles, bars, etc! Very lively and super fun. We were here 3 nights straight and didn't get bored, saw different things every time and also tried multiple restaurants and thai desserts! It is usually calmer during the week, for on weekends its when the bars start to get crowded and you should be ready to mingle! The thing about Chiang Mai is that it has the bohemian vibe that a beach town would possess, except there is no beach here, its just the laid-back vibe it has, and stress-free mode that makes the living easy.
The Karen Hill Tribe-
Many tours that you might take include a visit to the Karen Village, where you will interact with members of this community and be able to see and buy the crafts they do for a living. We loved getting to see their culture and were fascinated by their beautiful silk scarves and handicrafts. Do your research if you want to go see this tribe because the real villages are located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai has a lot of culture to offer and even though it has gotten extremely popular, its a very fun town with a very enjoyable air to it. There are streets with a lot of cute cafes and back-packer friendly hostels, as well as chill-out places for drinks and hookah bars. We enjoyed our stay and made the best of it, but you have to come with no expectations! If you are looking for a real authentic vibe and no tourists on your trip, then you should probably head to a quieter place that is off the radar! For fun and socializing with other fellow travelers then this will be a great adventure.
There are A LOT of temples in Chiang Mai, you can try and see them all, or as we did just pick the ones we thought were the best. By this time we were a little tired of temples and monuments and were just looking for a striking one that stood out from all the rest, this was Doi Suthep. It is a work out to get up there, just do it! walk up the stairs it is just more enjoyable knowing you climbed to arrive to the peaceful and astounding gold Temple. Touristy and all, it is really impressive and incredible to witness, you can sense the peoples faith. Keep in mind that like all the other temples you visited before, you have to cover up your shoulders and legs out of respect. We are sure you will love this temple as much as we did!
Chiang Mai is where you are more likely to find the best deals in silk scarves! A variety of beautiful work coming in so many vibrant colors and different price ranges. You can go crazy at the Night market and get good deals on amazing colorful scarves or go to the silk factory and see their store with a large selection of different fabrics and clothes! From robes, to night gowns, to dresses, scarves, and even ties for men. This is silk heaven! a dream in terms of fabrics. We enjoyed the silk factory because of our love for fashion! It was in our interests to see the process of silk making. Unfortunately since we were on a budget we just fed our eyes with all the beauty in the store, but if you have the opportunity to shop till you drop then this place will drive you insane with its amazing pieces and smooth silks. We hope to be back to get a hold of some of the amazing fabrics we saw.
One of the restaurants that really stood our for us was Lemongrass. And if we were back in Chiang Mai this would be our first stop. This restaurant is located in the heart of Chiang Mai, it is easy to spot with the sign out the door that reads "No View But Tasty" SO TRUE! it is very tasty and extremely authentic Thai food. We loved how fresh the ingredients were and how it all tasted so natural. Best Pad-Thai, Best Curry, and even simple dishes like Mixed Vegetables were fantastic! there is no going wrong here, come for lunch or dinner for amazing food in a funky ambiance.
We loved the easy going time we had in Chiang Mai, we recommend 4 days to get the most of this city and absorb the stress free lifestyle of the locals!
to book a flight to Bangkok and take a train to Chiang Mai click here: FLIGHTS
to book a hotel in Chiang Mai click here: HOTELS